Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

New England Patriots Notes: Dannell Ellerbe, Kenbrell Thompkins

The Miami Dolphins made plenty of splashes this offseason, with the biggest additions being to the wide receiver corps as Ryan Tannehill heads into his second year as the starter in Miami. Tannehill has been impressive so far this offseason, and he and fellow rookie Lamar Miller look poised for breakout seasons in the Dolphins backfield. Tannehill now has three legitimate weapons to add to Brian Hartline in Dustin Keller, Mike Wallace, and Brandon Gibson, and there’s been plenty of talk from Dolphins players on the chances of the team unseating the New England Patriots.

Much of that talk has been blown out of proportion by some people, and the same can likely be said regarding Dannell Ellerbe‘s comments. Ellerbe was one of a few big additions to the Dolphins defense last offseason, as he replaces veteran Karlos Dansby as the Dolphins middle linebacker. Ellerbe, formerly of the Baltimore Ravens, told CBS Sports’s Mike Freeman that he thinks the Patriots are more vulnerable than usual this season.

He then followed up with this quote that is more important, “I was brought here to help knock them off. That doesn’t mean we will, but we feel like we can. Like I said, we just have to prove it. You have to actually go do it.”

Read that last sentence. This isn’t a guy talking smack; this is coming from somebody who realizes the talk, realizes that the Dolphins have an opportunity, but he also realizes that actions speak louder than words. The Dolphins went all-in this offseason, and the signing of Ellerbe is a clear symbol of that. They didn’t need an upgrade at linebacker, but they decided to pull a big free agent there, in addition to their other aggressive moves (drafting Dion Jordan, signing a slew of pass-catchers for example). I have the Dolphins as a team too talented to miss the playoffs, but I don’t see them dethroning the Patriots. There are certain players on the Pats who escape the limelight, and the Pats are a team built on depth and solid contributors. It’s going to be a close race, but it will take a lot for the Dolphins to take down the Patriots.

The New England Patriots signed some great sleepers in undrafted free agency, and tight end Zach Sudfeld has garnered plenty of attention from Pats fans recently. However, you should also keep Kenbrell Thompkins as a name in mind heading into training camp, because he has had an excellent offseason thus far. Thompkins is a lock for the practice squad, in my opinion, and ESPN Boston’s Mike Rodak believes that Thompkins has a 25%  chance of making the roster. Those are pretty good odds for a UDFA, and we’ll see if Thompkins can make some more noise in training camp when the stakes are heightened.

Next Patriots Game View full schedule »
Sunday, Sep 77 Sep1:00at Miami DolphinsBuy Tickets
Dick's Sporting Goods presents "Hell Week":

Tags: Dannell Ellerbe Kenbrell Thompkins Miami Dolphins New England Patriots NFL Offseason

  • Paul V. Suffriti

    It should be an intense competition at the WR position…..they will have plenty of talent in camp this year and good depth should not be an issue.

    • Joe Soriano

      Paul, you hit the nail on the head again. The Patriots have a lot of depth at wide receiver, and that’s going to lead to some great camp battles. The issue, though, is finding out if one of those guys can step up and be a No. 1 receiver. But now that I think about it, that can be overcome if enough of them can emerge as solid threats. I could easily see the Pats running a spread offense with different wideouts on the field.

  • Catman

    Hmm I think the ‘Fins are arming their offense in anticipation of a breakout 2013 for Tannehill. Marino’s NFL record-smashing season was his second NFL season, so they have a template there already. Tannehill won’t be tossing 48 TD passes I don’t think, but he is going to have a running game that Marino never did and likely a top-ten defense to help out, given what they did last year and the improvements there. Having said that, they’ll probably be more vulnerable to the Pats’ short passing game than anything else and with Brady’s patience the Pats could still sweep the fins in ’13 and make winning the division difficult but I think the ‘fins are younger and more talented overall. Philbin’s not a rookie HC now either, so I’m looking for big things in south Florida this year. The Pats showed cracks in the armor last season and I don’t think they’ve improved….I’ve been saying for months that Shane Vereen will have a lot bigger role – well before the “reports” of using him at WR came out. Could be just some misdirection from BB, but I don’t see another huge rushing season coming from Stevan Ridley. D and O both look solid but unspectacular at least so far as the Pats go, and this Hernandez stuff isn’t gonna help. Might be the ‘fins year, finally!